The his­tory of Roche Bobois, the stir­ring story of the spoon, and why Lon­don’s Noho is the place to go

The French su­per­brand with play­ful­ness at its core

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents -

In 1950s France, there was a huge need to re­place fur­ni­ture lost dur­ing WWII. But man­u­fac­tur­ers there lazily as­sumed that French cus­tomers only liked fussy, tra­di­tional styles – which were col­lec­tively nick­named ‘le mous­tache’ (pre­sum­ably an al­lu­sion to fusty old gen­tle­men). One ex­cep­tion was en­tre­pre­neur Jac­ques Roche, who founded for­ward-look­ing fur­ni­ture firm Roche in 1950. The tim­ing was right: Paris in­te­ri­ors fair the Salon des Arts Mé­nagers pro­moted in­no­va­tive ideas and an emerg­ing youth­ful style.

Ini­tially, Roche sold Bauhaus-in­spired fur­ni­ture, mod­ern ap­pli­ances and fold-up wall beds. His sons Philippe and François soon joined the com­pany. In 1960, they met broth­ers Pa­trick and Jean-claude Chouchan by chance, and the four set up a new brand, Roche Bobois (Bobois be­ing a short­ened form of Beau Bois, the name of the Chouchan fam­ily’s Paris fur­ni­ture store). In the 1970s, Roche Bobois be­gan stock­ing Hans Hopfer’s in­no­va­tive, floor-level mod­u­lar so­fas; in­spired by com­mu­nal Mid­dle East­ern seat­ing, they chimed with the in­creas­ingly laid-back life­styles of the day.

Over­all, Roche Bobois – whose cur­rent CEO is (non-fam­ily mem­ber) Gilles Bo­nan – takes a plu­ral­ist ap­proach to de­sign, al­ways al­low­ing room for play­ful­ness. A new ad­di­tion is a col­lec­tion by Chris­tian Lacroix Mai­son, which in­cludes cab­i­nets fea­tur­ing land­scape scenes (left), and flam­boy­ant chairs with curved backs re­sem­bling tai­lor’s man­nequins. While ritzy, it re­mains true to the orig­i­nal Roche Bobois spirit (

Roche Bobois takes a plu­ral­ist ap­proach to de­sign, al­ways al­low­ing room for play­ful­ness

From top ‘Odea’ sofa and chairs by Roberto Tap­inassi & Mau­r­izio Man­zoni. Pa­trick Chouchan. Cabi­net by Chris­tian Lacroix Mai­son. ‘Cute Cut’ side ta­ble by Cé­dric Ragot

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